I am a 2nd grade teacher in a Title I public school. My husband is a high school special education teacher in a classroom called BIC (Behavior Intervention Class). Needless to say, we have many discussions about our students and how we can best reach them. As teachers, we must remember that our students are coming to school with all kinds of baggage. It is our job to help the students leave the baggage at the door by creating a warm, friendly, and safe environment. Our goal for behavior management is to prevent the behavior before it happens.
Preventative Behavior Management
Be highly organized.
Have a daily plan and stick to it. Students like to know what is happening next, they feel safe and secure when they know the plan. There will be times when the schedule has to be changed, and flexibility is required, but by preparing the students as much as possible, the change will go much smoother for them.
Create a calm and safe environment.
In addition to having a predictable schedule and routine, taking about 5-10 minutes at the beginning of each day to focus on breathing and the classroom environment, students can ease in to their day and focus their attention on their job as a student.
Create an upbeat and positive environment.
Students take on the personality of their teachers. If the teacher is positive and encouraging, the students will pick up on that.
Create a caring and compassionate classroom culture.
Do a morning meeting each day and allow one or two students to show or tell something important. This can open the door to some good discussion. Model how to ask genuine questions to generate meaningful discussion.
Teach and provide activities to individual learning styles.
Identify your students’ learning styles and create lessons and activities that will engage them. Provide a variety of activities for students to choose from to extend their learning. Group students with similar learning styles together for more successful cooperative learning.
As a student’s level of behavior escalates, the teacher should remain calm and use a quiet, but firm voice. Practice compassionate listening and loving kindness in your speech.
Lead the student to make the right decision.
Have the student verbalize their behavior and what would have been a better choice. Give the student the power to correct their behavior.
Ask questions to help the student make good choices:
1. What are you doing?
2. What should you be doing?
3. Are you doing it?
4. Can you please do that?
Let them see themselves.
A strategically placed mirror will allow the student to be able to see themselves while talking with the teacher. People do not like to see themselves upset or angry. This may help de-escalate the student when they are upset or angry.
Generally, most students will respond positively to this, but there are always exceptions. These are the students that will require more effort. The main thing that they have to understand is that they cannot prevent the rest of the class from learning or having fun. Positive consequences come with positive behavior. And negative consequences come with negative behavior. If a student cannot control his/her behavior, he/she will need a time-out in the hall or with another teacher. If the behavior continues, losing recess, PE, or sitting alone at lunch would be the next consequence. Finally, if the student continues to make poor choices, a visit to the office and a call home will be required.
About the Authors
Louise Morgan is a 2nd grade teacher with Crowley ISD in Texas. She enjoys using technology and connecting with classrooms around the world via blogging and Skype. Louise was named Teacher of the Year for her school in May 2012. Preston Morgan is a high school special education teacher with Crowley ISD in Texas. His Behavior Intervention Class provides new challenges and learning experiences on a daily basis.